Banff, Canada:  walking on water

I’m back home now but still reminiscing about the trip to Banff.  It was comparatively mild compared to previous winters when we have been there, afternoon temperatures getting up to a toasty -50C though much colder overnight and most days afternoon temperatures between -150C and -200C.  Makes a mockery of ‘the beast from the east’ headlining in the UK with night time temperatures of -50C.

It snowed regularly, sometimes with falls of 15cms in a fairly short time.  It meant that this year I stuck to skiing midweek leaving the slopes to the hordes from Calgary rushing up at weekends to revel in the ‘pow-days’. On weekends I went trekking, sometimes on snowshoes, sometimes with ice cleats.  I rarely saw anyone else.

One snowshoe trek was upstream on the Bow River, frozen solid and snow covered.  It snowed much of the time I was out.  Apart from the pleasure of walking on snow in the snow in the vastness of the Canadian Rockies there were micro-moments when the small scale took centre stage.

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The ironic start  of the trek, the Canoe Club at the confluence of the Bow River and 40 Mile Creek.

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On the river, Bow River to the left, 40 Mile Creek to the right.

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The Creek is faster flowing at this point and so there are vestigial runs of  unfrozen water, thick ice above the water level and covered in snow.

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On 40 Mile Creek the edges of the ice collapse as the water level drops.  Tracks show it has been crossed but in my view best avoided.

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Walking the dog on the thicker ice of the Bow River.

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The thicker ice means that the river can be crossed at any point, here by a single set of prints

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….. but there are also well worn trails across, shortcuts from housing on the west bank to downtown on the east.

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Deep snow on the river ice makes the going hard work even in snowshoes, mine the only prints

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…. until I come across fresh prints crossing the river.  Obviously a big cat as evidenced by the lack of claw marks, running cat-fashion back paws-to front paws, and very fresh with no sign of the fine powdery snow blown by the wind into the depressions.

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Thankfully the size of the tracks indicated they were made by a lynx or bobcat and not the much larger and potentially much more dangerous cougar, seen in town only a few days earlier.

 

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Further on, eddying wind has blown snow off the smooth ice showing bubbles of gas frozen like white mushrooms as they try to unsuccessfully to reach the frozen surface, the effect split by a crack-line.

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Looking more closely at the frozen bubbles

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Clear ice shaped into smooth curves as it froze swirling around a tree stump, acting like a prism and refracting the light into rainbow colours.

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Walking back downriver on the Marsh Loop Trail, a footbridge crosses the always-flowing stream coming down from the hot spring at the Cave and Basin, the reason why Banff grew here.  Slightly ponded on the upstream side …..

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….. on the downstream side of the bridge the open channel is narrower but still flowing.

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By the time it reaches here, the hot water has cooled.  Now only a few degrees above zero it freezes on twigs and branches.

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….. and creates intricate shapes at the water’s edge

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Coming out of the forest and looking across the flat expanse of marshland towards the serrated ridge of Mount Rundle.

A great day.

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